Underwater Microscope mode
Underwater Microscope mode

Olympus TOUGH TG-6 User’s Experience

Review Date: July 16, 2019

Category: Entry-Level

Olympus TOUGH TG-6 (Red)

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2019 - Compact Rugged
Photoxels Editor’s Choice 2019 – Compact Rugged


Friday, June 21, 2019 – Here’s what I received in the box:

  • TG-6 (Red) with removable Lens Ring
  • No memory card [I used a 1GB SD memory card for the review]
  • Li-ion Battery LI-92B 3.6V 1350mAh
  • Strap
  • USB Cable
  • USB AC Adapter F-5AC-1
  • Documentation: Quick Start Guide, Maintaining Water Resistance, Warranty Card. You can download an Instruction Manual online.
Your user experience will depend on how you intend to shoot with the TOUGH TG-6. As a casual camera for everyday shooting, it gives you a safe reassurance that you do not have to be extra careful handling it and that it will reliably shoot in any environment. However, some of you will also buy this camera for its underwater capabilities. After all, to be able to shoot underwater down to a depth of 15 m / 49.2 ft without using an extra protective underwater casing is quite liberating for those of you who are seriously into underwater photography — or just like to shoot by the pool or in the sea.

Underwater Photography



To test the underwater capability of the TG-6, we did a couple of tests. Note that we did not test it to its fullest specs, but we did these: 1) dunk it into a fish tank; 2) placed it into a bowl of clean tap water and left it to soak for 10 minutes; 3) took pictures in the rain; 4) took still pictures and videos underwater. If you are seriously into underwater photography and want to see examples of actual deep underwater shots, we recommend the following sites (1, 2, 3).

There are five (5) underwater shooting modes: Underwater Snapshot (for natural light shallow depth shooting), Underwater Wide (lens is at maximum wide-angle setting), Underwater Macro (lens is at maximum telephoto setting), Underwater Microscope (for focusing between 1 to 10 cm), and Underwater HDR (captures multiple images and merges them into one, properly exposed image).

Here’s a picture with Underwater Microscope mode selected:

Underwater Microscope mode

Underwater Microscope mode

As you can see for both these pictures, the autofocus is spot on.

Here’s a 4K video where I slowly dunk the TG-6 into the bowl of water:

To account for how light filters through the water, causing variations in colors, there are now three (3) underwater white balance modes: shallow (3 m / 9.8 ft or less), mid-range ( 3 – 15 m / 9.8 – 49.2 ft) and deep (below 15 m / 49.2 ft). At depths below 15 m / 49.2 ft, you should use the Olympus PT-059 Underwater Housing.

How about the other “tough” features? Well, do realize that the TG-6 still has certain warranty limitations (see pages 121 – 124 in the Instruction Manual) that you have to be aware of. We did not go out of our way to purposefully subject the TG-6 to the limits of its “toughness” capabilities, but then neither did we worry too much when some accidents (bumping, dropping) did happen during shooting. We’re glad to report that the TG-6 kept working properly.

Autofocus is achieved using 25-point Contrast-Detection. An AF Illuminator helps to acquire focus lock when the light level is low. When shooting at very close range, several focus modes help in capturing sharp images:

  • Focus Stacking: shoots a number of images, automatically shifting the focus in each image. The first image is recorded and a composite of all the images with a large depth of field is also recorded.
  • Focus Bracketing: shoots a number of images, automatically shifting the focus in each image
  • Microscope Control: Optimized for close-ups with the subject magnified in the monitor. The magnification level when the shooting distance is 1 cm is displayed on the monitor. Press RIGHT ARROW to zoom in on the view through the lens (2× zoom). Press again for 4× zoom. Pressing I when 4× zoom is selected cancels zoom. At high magnification levels, the image may be grainy.
TIP: Setting the Minimum Shutter Speed for ISO Change
The rule of thumb to avoid camera shake when handholding is to use a shutter speed that is the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens. So, for example, if you are shooting at 60 mm, the minimum shutter speed you want to use to avoid camera shake is 1/60 sec. Since the TG-6’s lens zooms from 25 mm to 100 mm, it would be safest to set the minimum shutter speed to 1/100 sec.

To do this on the TG-6: MENU – Custom Menu – C. Exp/ISO – ISO Auto Set – Lowest S/S Setting = 1/100sec

TIP: Date Stamp Your Photos
For those who like to date stamp their photos, you can do so using the date and/or time: MENU – Shooting Menu 2 – Date Stamp – Off, Date, Time or Date/Time

Other features we have not had time to fully explore:

  • Time Lapse
  • Slow motion at Full HD 120 fps, HD at 240 fps and SD at 480 fps
  • Live Composite
  • Focus Stacking

You can set four (4) One-Touch White Balance (labelled WB1 thru WB4). Olympus menus are reputed to be very thorough — which also means they can at times be a bit difficult to navigate even to set the most common settings.

Setting a custom (One-touch) white balance was the one and only minor frustration I encountered with the TG-6. I pressed MENU, then navigated to Custom Menu – E – WB – RIGHT CURSOR – Select WB1 – RIGHT CURSOR – put a white cardboard in front – press the shutter button — and nothing happened.

I tried a couple of times more before giving up and downloaded the Instruction Manual. So here’s how to properly set a custom WB:

TIP: How to Set Custom (One-touch) White Balance
OK button (not MENU) – cursor to WB – select WB1 thru WB4 – press the INFO button – place a white cardboard in front of the camera – press the shutter button to set the white balance – If you are happy with the displayed result, select Yes and press OK to save.

Exposure Compensation
The TG-6 tends to overexpose when shooting very bright scenes, especailly with the sky present. In this case, simply dial in a negative exposure compensation for correct exposure.

TIP: Dialing In An Exposure Compensation
The TG-6 has a Control dial that allows you to easily and conveniently dial in an exposure compensation in P shooting mode. You can also press UP on the Arrow Pad and use RIGHT or LEFT to dial in an exposure compensation.

In A shooting mode, press UP and then either use the Control dial or RIGHT/LEFT to dial in an exposure compensation.

Remote Control
You can connect the TG-6 to your smartphone and use the latter as a remote control to fire the shutter on the camera. This remote control feature is useful when you want to avoid camera shake.

TIP: Connecting to a Smartphone
1. Phone: Download the Olympus Image Share (OI.Share) app.
2. Camera: MENU – Playback Menu – Connection to Smartphone – OK. The QR Code is displayed on screen.
3. Phone: Launch OI.Share and tap the camera icon at the bottom of the screen (it says Off) – Easy Setup – Scan
4. Phone: Scan the QR Code displayed on the camera display screen – click Install – Allow
5. Phone: Settings – Profile Downloaded – Install – Type in passcode if necessary – Install – Install – Done
6. Camera: Settings – WiFi – Select the camera (“TG-6-something-something”)
7. Phone: Now you can select a remote feature, e.g., Remote Control to take pictures. Note that you must have already selected the appropriate shooting mode and other settings on the camera before. The Remote Control is only acting as a remote shutter.

No review is complete without a couple of improvement suggestions:

  • Improve exposure when shooting very bright scenes
  • Longer shutter speeds for better low-light photography

We found the Olympus TOUGH TG-6 to be a great all-round go-anywhere performer that shoots good quality images in all sorts of situations. It’s not a perfect camera, and we have mentioned some of its shortcomings in this review. However, if you have been afraid of shooting in adverse weather before or worry about damaging your camera with water, dust or sand, the TG-6 almost everything-proof capabilities now take the worry away completely. If we had to choose one travel camera to bring with us for recording families, friends and places we’ve visited, it would hands-down be the TG-6. It is Olympus’ best tough camera yet! Recommended.

Next: Olympus TOUGH TG-6 QuickFact Sheet / Buy this camera

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